Mesothelioma survival rates

Over 3,000 people in the Unites States develop malignant mesothelioma every year, but it is still considered a rare cancer due to the fact that this represents less than one in a million people.  However, for those people who develop the cancer, the pain and damage is omnipresent.  They may wonder about treatment and mesothelioma survival rates.

Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer that develops and grows in the lining that covers the internal organs of the body, or the ‘mesothelium’.  This means that people with mesothelioma may have cancerous growths on the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart and / or testis.  Most of the people who develop mesothelioma do so because they worked as a miner and encountered asbestos, or perhaps it was part of their job to work with asbestos.  Even people at home who handle the clothing of an asbestos miner are at risk for developing mesothelioma, especially if they also have the genetic marker that makes them more susceptible.

The mesothelioma survival rates are still very disappointing, though newer chemotherapies or multimodal treatments (attacking the cancer using several different methods at once) has proved more fruitful than more traditional methods.  Similarly to many other cancers, if one is diagnosed early, the prognosis is better.  However, several things stand in the way of better mesothelioma survival rates:

  • Since mesothelium has a lot of surface area, it’s easy for cancerous cells to flake off and settle elsewhere in the body.
  • Since mesothelium stretches over many organs, it’s easy for the cancer to spread from the mesothelium to other organs.
  • There is a long period of slight illness before the cancer takes hold, making it very difficult to pin to asbestos-caused malignant mesothelioma.  This means it is difficult to spot early enough to make a difference.

Treatment methods include chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, immunological therapies, and surgery.

Surgery on its own has proved disappointing, but surgery to remove the tumors plus chemotherapy drugs, plus radiation therapy has proved more effective.  Immunological therapy with interferon alpha has shown promise for mesothelioma, with one fifth of patients experiencing a greater than 50% reduction in tumor mass, and side-effects were not significant.

Finally, age is a significant factor in mesothelioma survival rates.  It should surprise no one to learn that older patients have a lower survival rate than younger ones.  If diagnosed before the age of fifty, patients have a fifty-fifty chance.  However, patients seventy five or older have a one in three chance of survival.


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